Robots to the Rescue


LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nurses at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California are keeping an eye on up to 12 patients in their rooms at one time. They can do that, thanks to the AvaSys TeleSitter, an interactive robot. This new technology is making life easier for patients and staff and saving the hospital a lot of money.

This is the fifth time Chuck McGibbon is in St. Joseph Hospital since his stroke two years ago. His wife, Fran, has always stayed in his room with him because he gets confused and tries to get out of bed. The AvaSys TeleSitter changed all that.

Fran told Ivanhoe, “Knowing that the camera was on him and somebody was observing him, I went home and had a peaceful night’s sleep. I slept from seven to four in the morning for the first time ever.”

The camera feeds video into the “cockpit,” where one technician watches over 12 rooms at once. This relieves pressure on nursing aides who used to have to monitor patients in person.

Gemma Seidl, RN, MSN, MPH, PHN, Executive Director of Critical Care/Medical Surgical Services at St. Joseph Hospital, Orange said, “It also provides a sense of security for our patients and for our family members, and they know that when they go home, they know that somebody’s watching their loved ones 24-7.”

The TeleSitter is assigned to patients who are confused, have dementia, or alcohol withdrawal.

“Any type of patients, when they come in, that we know that they’re high risk for falls already, and if they have fallen at home or have a history of falls,” explained  Seidl.

If the tech sees a patient trying to get up or pull IV’s out, he or she can talk to the patient directly through the monitor or send a message to the nurse.

The tech can also sound a siren, to get help to a patient immediately if needed. There’s one more huge benefit: Seidl said in one month, the TeleSitter replaced more than 4,000 hours of nursing assistant work, saving the hospital almost $92,000.

A cool new feature of the AvaSys TeleSitter is that it can speak in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin and more. Also all units have infrared cameras for night vision. By the way, no nursing jobs were lost. The nurses were relocated to other departments where in person contact was needed.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed, Videographer.

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REPORT #2560

BACKGROUND: Robots in hospitals can be quite handy. The concept of courier robots in hospitals is not very new. For example, the HelpMate was developed and started to operate in the 20th century. A HelpMate can carry around x-ray images, food and/or medication. The main task of this kind of robot is to find their way around the hospital or to work as a guide. There is another robot known as McKesson ROBOT-Rx. It is a robotic system intended for automated medication processing. It automates medication storage, selection, return, restock and crediting functions.  More than 1/3 of all hospitals in North America use their robotic system. “Robotic Doctors” allow a doctor to examine the patient from an entirely other location. This telerobotics application can be invaluable in an emergency situation when every second counts. The same way robots can enhance the productivity of a manufacturing environment, they can also help to reduce costs and achieve better level of productivity in hospitals.


ROBOTS IN HEALTHCARE: Hospitals globally have been slow to adopt robotics and artificial intelligence into patient care, although both have been widely used and tested in other industries. Medicine has traditionally been slow to change, as safety is at its core. Financial pressures will inevitably force industry and governments to recognize that when robots can do something better and for the same price as humans, the robot way will be the only way. What some hospitals have done in the past 10 years is recognize the potential to be more factory-like, and hence more efficient. The term “focused factories” has been used to describe some of these new hospitals that specialize in a few key procedures and that organize the workflow in a more streamlined and industrial way. They have even tried “lean processing” methods borrowed from the car manufacturing industry. One idea is to free up the humans in hospitals so that they can carry out more complex cases. Some people are nervous about turning hospitals into factories. There are fears that “lean” means cutting money and hence employment. But, if the motivation for going lean is to do more with the same, then it is likely that employment will change but not reduce.


ROBOTIC SURGERY BREAKTHROUGH: Professor Sanja Dogramadzi, from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England, has led the development of a ground-breaking robotic system that enables surgeons to put joint fractures back together using a minimally invasive approach. Professor Roger Atkins, an orthopedic surgeon at University Hospital Bristol, is working alongside Dogramadzi to refine the system. The Bristol team’s surgical system combines state-of-the-art 3D imaging, pattern recognition and robotics. It begins with CT scans of healthy and fractured joints. These are interpreted by a mathematical algorithm which works out the exact displacement and rotation needed for each fragment to be put back together in exactly the right place. The solution to this 3D puzzle is the starting point for the minimally invasive surgical robotic system that repositions the fragments under the surgeon’s supervision. Professor Dogramadzi says, “By working closely with surgeons we have been able to design a workable system which will function within the constraints of real surgery and meet the needs of patients. The robots we are developing will enhance the work of surgeons by carrying out complex tasks suited to robots, while the surgeon stays in control and makes the decisions essential to the success of the surgery.”


* For More Information, Contact:


Gemma Seidl, RN, MSN, MPH, PHN                                               James Chisum, Public & Media Relations Specialist                                               

714-368-8382                                                                          562-493-6023